Category Archives: Quotations

A Doorstep for Orin’s Sugarcamp

December 12th, 2016 | 15 Comments »
On the weekend we installed the granite slab that marks the 'front door' of Orin's Sugarcamp, my latest art installation at Glen Villa. (You can read about the project here.) Doing this was tricky. It involved transporting an 800-pound slab of rock across a snowy field and a partially frozen stream on the back of an open wagon. That takes skill, particularly since the snow is very slippery right now. But Jacques Gosselin and Ken Kelso, the talented men who work for me at Glen Villa, managed the job with ease.   [caption id="attachment_4767" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]

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Orin’s Sugarcamp

November 21st, 2016 | 12 Comments »
Just over a year ago I began work on a project in the woods at Glen Villa, my garden in Quebec. I was inspired by an exhibition I saw at The Mount, Edith Wharton's home in western Massachusetts. One piece in particular caught my eye, a collection of oddly shaped pieces of wood that contrasted in an interesting way with the straight vertical tree trunks around them.   [caption id="attachment_4682" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Cognito, a sculptural installation by William Carlson[/caption]   I knew almost immediately that I wanted to do something similar and

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The Colours of Autumn

October 31st, 2016 | 12 Comments »
I missed the peak of autumn colour this year in the Eastern Townships of Quebec -- where colours are as good as (or better than?) any place in North America -- because of some trips that took me away from home. So when a friend sent me a photo he took a week or so ago of the hills behind our house, I was delighted.   [caption id="attachment_4579" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Our house and boathouse on Lake Massawippi are dwarfed by the hills that rise behind.[/caption]   What a spectacle it was. Friends who were

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Prospect Cottage: A Garden Review

October 12th, 2016 | 12 Comments »
  The garden at Prospect Cottage, located in Kent on England's east coast, was created by the late Derek Jarmon, a filmmaker, diarist and early advocate of gay rights. It is a garden that sits lightly on the land while simultaneously conveying a powerful sense of place. It is also one that elicits a strong response from visitors. Either they like it or they don't, are intrigued by it or walk through quickly, dismissing what they see as a collection of rubbish with some flowers thrown in.   [caption id="attachment_4107" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]

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Framing the View

August 16th, 2016 | 10 Comments »
"No matter how panoramic its scope, a view of surrounding countryside becomes a genuine garden picture only when it has been framed." - Penelope Hobhouse Recently I came across this statement from the English garden writer and designer Penelope Hobhouse. I read it quickly, nodded in agreement, then paused and read it again. Did I agree? Does a view have to be framed in order to create a 'garden picture'? And what is a 'garden picture' anyway? a photograph of the garden or the picturesque scene itself? The more I considered the statement, the

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The Kennedy Memorial at Runnymede

May 30th, 2016 | 13 Comments »
Memorials are tricky things to get right. In the past, when heroes were celebrated and the power of rulers was exalted in monuments that forced ordinary people to crane their necks skywards, understanding a memorial was easy. A man on horseback was a triumphant military leader. A statue elevated on a Greek-style plinth was a politician, or perhaps a king or queen. When the statue was part of a fountain or surrounded by figures of reclining women in various stages of undress, the message was probably one that celebrated the achievements of a country

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Can spring be far behind?

April 5th, 2016 | 12 Comments »
Percy Bysshe Shelley knew a thing or two about spring. His Ode to the West Wind ends with a hopeful phrase: Be through my lips to unawakened Earth The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind, If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind? At Glen Villa, the answer seems to be yes, it can be. Far too far behind. Is this April unseasonably cold? Perhaps not. But after a mild winter, and a few days of beautifully warm sunshine, my hopes were high. It seemed that the unawakened earth was awakening,

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Is a Clearing in the Woods a Garden?

September 27th, 2015 | 13 Comments »
"A natural clearing in a wood is a glade. But a perfectly round clearing the same size, in the same wood, becomes a garden."                                             ... Juan Grimm, Chilean landscape architect   Ten years ago, in March 2005, we planted a ring of trees in a clearing in the woods. The clearing had been used as a staging area the previous winter, a place where the trees we were selectively cutting were

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Go With Me: A Book Review and A Challenge

May 17th, 2015 | 9 Comments »
Last year, Michael Gordon, a gardener in New Hampshire, wrote about a book called  Go With Me: 50 Steps to Landscape Thinking. In his blog post he described how he used the book to enrich a tour he was leading through gardens in England. His description intrigued me and I immediately ordered the book on line. No luck -- it was out of print. I searched various used book outlets. Again, nothing. Finally, almost a year after beginning the search, I got hold of a copy. Reading this tiny handbook

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Flora and Fauna in Ravenna’s Mosaics

May 4th, 2015 | 2 Comments »
For the last few days I've been in Ravenna, Italy, looking at mosaics that date back to the 5th century. And glorious they are. Scattered through the old city, all but one within easy walking distance, these mosaics decorate the interiors of basilicas, mausoleums and baptistries. They tell stories from the life of Jesus and celebrate Christian doctrine in some of its earliest forms. The exteriors of the buildings that house the mosaics are simple, undecorated brick. The interiors gleam with mosaics in gold, green, blue, red -- every colour and shade

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